The Parrish couple behind BirdWalk Photography typically takes photos of Florida’s bounty of colorful birds.
But on a visit to Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland on Saturday, Linda and Jesse Waring came across a different kind of nature scene.
A splash alerted Jesse to an alligator that they had noticed earlier floating motionless in the water. Now it had something in its mouth.
Jesse’s camera was jamming up, so he called for Linda, who was down the trail chasing a blue heron.
It turned out that the alligator was making a meal of a water snake in broad daylight.
The snake, naturally, had different ideas.
Linda started clicking away.
The feisty serpent’s efforts to escape the jaws of death were ultimately unsuccessful — Linda chose to keep the last photo of the series private — but she says it was amazing to witness its determination to escape.
“He did not want to be lunch,” Waring said. “He definitely put up a good fight, but, alas, the gator prevailed. One real chomp and the snake went down.”
Linda says that they didn’t realize what they had until they got home and looked at the photos.
The shots show the red banded water snake fighting to escape the alligator’s gullet in vivid detail — teeth, scales and all.
Linda posted the photos online, where they got enthusiastic reactions from Facebook users.
“Right place, right time, and right photographer!” one commenter said.
“Amazing photos. Magazine worthy,” said another.
Before long, news stations started contacting the Warings.
“Nothing like that’s ever happened to me before,” Waring said.
Linda also credits nature photography for bringing her and Jesse together.
They became acquainted back in high school in a photography class, according to Linda. Many years later, after they had had separate marriages and kids, they met again by chance.
“We reconnected about seven years ago and he asked if I still took pictures. I told him to check out an album of bird photos that I had on my Facebook page,” Waring said. “That was it, he was sunk.”
For now, BirdWalk Photography is a part-time hobby for Jesse and Linda, but she says they plan on devoting more time to the passion in retirement.
Their photos, which they have also made into photographic art printed on wood slats, have sold in Village of the Arts and have been displayed in St. Armands Circle.
“We aim for pretty things that people might want to hang on a wall,” Waring said. “This was kind of a different look for us.”
See more of Linda and Jesse’s photos at birdwalkphotography.com.